Biking to Hermit's Rest
Toto, we are not in the Grand Canyon anymore. I know I've been camping when I wake up and feel almost out of place in a bed between four walls. It's wonderful to know we're going to continue on this journey and I can't even imagine what adventures are still ahead, but as the GC was our longest stay thus far, I feel like a big piece of this trip (for me) will always be there. Then again, considering I tripped down Kaibab Trail and skinned my knees, I guess I really did leave a piece of me there.
See the dust on my knees? They bled first, and now are purple. Sweet.
Being on this trip with Kt has definitely been one of the most fun parts. Though we are seeing beautiful things that would be beautiful regardless of the circumstances, it's nice to be with someone who seems to appreciate them as much as you do. Kt's love for history and time is especially interesting as we see things that are significant to our past, society, and country. She also seems to be much better at communicating her feelings, while for the purposes of this blog, I'm trying to stick to events. Last night as we tried to cozy up our Safari Motor Inn room (and by cozy up I mean facebooked, blogged, and took advantage of indoor plumbing and electric sockets) Kt wrote this:
Joshua Tree, Safari Motor Inn, Room 106
I’m having trouble putting the past 10 days into words. It really can’t be done. I’ll do my best to catalogue our journey, but I know it won’t even be half as inspiring as the things we’ve seen and done these last few days.
During Kt's awesome 14 hour drive from NM to AZ.
What we’ve seen so far:
New Orleans, the bayou (that’s what I’m telling myself it was), Houston, San Antonio (the Alamo and Riverwalk… I dug ‘em), numerous desert mountains (some rocky, some foresty, some sandy, all scary), Carlsbad Caverns, multiple national parks and forests, Route 66, the Grand Canyon (and it is), Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott (10/10), California state line, the road into Joshua Tree, and one SWEET $40/night motel!
See what I mean? It’s a little much just reading the list myself… it’s even more difficult to express what it’s actually like! So, for now, I’ll just highlight some of my favorites.
In addition to being constantly floored by the astounding beauty that makes up our country, I was a little surprised at how much I am into the wildlife! Emily, not so much, but for me seeing a wild animal is like the most potent natural drug! The first one I spotted was on the long drive from Carlsbad to the Grand Canyon. During about hour 13.5 (for some reason I decided to drive the entire 14 hour stretch) I spotted an enormous elk literally 3 feet off the winding mountain road! It was also pitch black as it was 10:30pm. My reaction was the biggest gasp I’ve ever gasped followed by 6 straight minutes of “I can’t BELIEVE I just saw that!” and “OH MY GOSH!” My adrenaline was going so fast I thought I should pull over. Luckily Emily saw the next one (an even bigger one!) with me and was able to share in the experience.
At the Grand Canyon campsite I saw another elk (thanks to our friendly campsite neighbors pointing the way) in the woods and as if that wasn’t enough the Lord blessed us with an amazing opportunity of seeing two of them crossing the road not 15 feet from us during our drive to view the canyon at sunset! Naturally I took 152 pictures (2 of which aren’t blurry). The natural sites (Carlsbad, the Grand Canyon, etc.) are beyond words (at least for me) so I’ll leave that description to Emily’s blog and the pictures I’ll (one day) post. (I promise I’ll post more pictures, but it might not be until the trip is over… there are so many!
One of many ravens. This picture makes it look far smaller than in reality.
The other animal “encounter” that floored me was last night, our final night in the Grand Canyon. As Emily and I sat talking in our tent, layering on clothes for the chill of the mountain evening, we heard something that I have only heard in movies. COYOTES! There had to be at least 5 or 6 of them and they were probably only 100 yards away! They started off howling and then a series of barks accompanied the howls. It lasted all of 30 seconds, but it may as well have been 30 minutes. It was very Stand By Me! It was also eerie, amazing, beautiful, terrifying, thrilling, shocking, exciting, and glorious! I felt like God sent us a little treat for out last night in northern Arizona. I truly cannot describe in words (or any other medium) what that experience meant to me. Something about the animals out here just make me come alive! I called for mountain lions and bobcats the ENTIRE time we were there but, alas, I saw none. Next time.
Taking a break to eat while biking.
We’ve been told that if seeing wild animals is what I dig then I’d love Yellowstone, so naturally we’ll be staying 2 nights there instead of the previously planned 1. I’m looking forward to seeing some bison! Also, I’ll be scouring the earth for moose, more elk, and of course bears (black and grizzly). Please note that while I may come packed with a little extra crazy, I have no intention of approaching any of these amazing creatures if I’m so lucky to see them! Well, probably not.
Tomorrow we leave for San Diego and a stint of our trip along the coast of California in which we’ll take a short hiatus from camping. The transfer from making coffee on a propane stove to ordering it in Starbucks will probably be a nice break. As Emily so eloquently noted, it’ll be nice to wake up and relieve ourselves in a bathroom 10 feet away rather than hiking up a sandy mountain road with only a lantern to guide our chilly path. If only we could hear the coyotes again it’d make this night perfect.